What does your dream playroom look like? Does it have a rock wall, monkey bars, or a special crafting zone? I am going to let you in on a little secret, Smart Playrooms can help make that dream a reality. They specialize in creating epic playrooms that are perfect for both play and learning. We had the chance to chat with the founder of Smart Playrooms, Karri Bowen-Poole, to learn a little bit more about how these special spaces are created.
Here’s What We Learned from the Smart Playroom Founder
Can you tell us a little bit about Smart Playrooms and how they vary from the traditional playroom?
A Smart Playroom is an intentional child-focused playroom that engages children in open-ended creative thinking and play. Our playrooms combine interior design principles and functional organization systems with a complete understanding of child development.
How do Smart Playrooms incorporate play-based learning? Do you have a background with play-based learning that helped inspire you?
I founded Smart Playrooms over 10 years ago, prior to that I received my Master’s degree in Education, and spent years teaching in a classroom. Smart Playrooms incorporates all the research that has gone into classroom design and layout into a person’s home, understanding that the design and layout can help achieve desired outcomes.
How would I go about designing a Smart Playroom? Are there different options?
We offer families on-site design in and around the NYC area and three tiers of Smart E-Designs (for families outside of our area) that are each customized to the children’s ages and interests. To get started, Smart Playrooms will send a client access to our client portal, where parents will be asked to fill out our online questionnaire. Our team will then create a playroom layout, 3D renderings, a shopping list, and the design details necessary for parents to implement the design on their own time.
What are some of the coolest features you have ever added to a Smart Playroom?
We have designed some amazing playrooms with so many amazing features. I think some of the coolest features that we have added include monkey bars that go right into a custom fort with a huge tube slide, a ceiling net that requires climbing our monkey bars and rock walls to access, an indoor zipline and playhouses and nooks with secret passages, mailboxes and creative lighting.
What physical, cognitive, and social emotional skills do you think play-based learning develops the most?
I believe that play based learning encourages natural curiosity, independence, creativity, imaginative play, problem solving skills and cooperative learning.
What are some suggestions for parents on how to use play and movement to reinforce academic learning?
It is through play that children learn to express thoughts, tell imaginative stories, use language to communicate, convey their thoughts, and explore their environment. Movement can literally turn on the brain, as exercise stimulates the prefrontal cortex which helps kids with organization, planning and concentration.
Meet the Founder
Karri has spent the last 10 years revolutionizing the way children learn and play. She’s designed hundreds of playrooms for a variety of children – including the children of celebrities like Nicky Hilton, Dylan Lauren, and Dan Girardi – and customizes each one to fit the needs and interests of the children. Karri regularly receives inquiries from families around the world, and her innovative, educational designs have been featured in a variety of magazines and newspapers, including House Beautiful and The New York Times. Karri’s 2019 renovation of her personal garage, which transformed the space into an amazing kid gym, yoga studio and sleepover nook for her family, was recently highlighted on Inside Edition this past summer. Karri’s groundbreaking playroom concept provides children with open-ended, engaging spaces that grow alongside them. She’s pioneered an entirely new way for kids to play at home.